Five Tips for Choosing Killer Samples

Free SamplesAs a writer, your samples say more about you than anything you could ever fabricate on your resume.  They, in fact, are your key to jobs.  That’s why it’s so fucking important to choose the right ones instead of just randomly sprinkling some pieces of your shittiest shit around the internet.

Choosing samples is as much an art as it is a science, but here are some tips for doing it better:

1.  Put your best foot forward.  Make sure the samples on your blog, Weebly site or that you attach to job inquiry emails demonstrate your very best work.  I’m not talking about work that became good because someone helped you out by editing it to death — I’m talking about work you did that came out amazing and was barely touched by editorial.  A potential employer wants to know how you write, not how well your work can be fixed by some killer editor out there.

2.  Stay focused on your subject matter.  If your niche is automotive writing, but you decide to attach a bunch of nipple ring blogs to your sample page, it’s not really productive.  How you write about nipples may be completely different from how you write about automotive topics — keep it relevant.  This goes doubly so when you’re applying for a job.  Samples that aren’t related will be tossed out, along with your resume and email address.

3.  Show your many sides.  As a writer, you may be asked to become a master of a number of formats and voices.  That’s not a problem for you, is it?  Well show your potential employers that you can handle blog writing, product descriptions, script writing and web pages by providing samples of each.  If you’ve written some in a casual voice and some in a much more formal tone, include that, too — being highly adaptable is a very attractive trait in a writer.

4.  Don’t force it.  Even if you really wish you had writing samples in a certain area, don’t force it.  Dear God, don’t.  An article you wrote once about kitchen sponges does not make you a marine biologist, ok?  If you want to break into that niche, share samples that you’ve written about animals or conservation topics — and admit your lack of experience.  Some clients won’t care if you can learn the material quickly.

5.  Keep it fresh.  This one seems obvious, but it’s actually the hardest part of maintaining a sample file.  Of course you’ll have some samples that are getting old if you’ve been focusing on a particular type of writing or niche for a while, but make sure you’re cycling the newest stuff in place of older counterparts.  The more you write, the better you get at it — at least in theory.  So it’s actually sort of counter-productive to keep old writing samples around.  Show your best pieces all of the time.

Samples are a vital part of being a writer, but sadly, most of you fuckers don’t know how to deal with them.  Now go follow my instructions and get some jobs!